With much of New Mexico still stuck in severe drought, water managers are improving miles of channel along the Rio Grande so more winter and spring runoff can find its way to Elephant Butte Reservoir.
Officials with the Interstate Stream Commission say maintenance of the 20-mile-long channel is key to getting more water to downstream users.
Commission Director Estevan Lopez estimates the channel saves at least 10,000 acre-feet of water per year. That's enough to irrigate a few thousand acres of farmland in the river valley.
The channel is an engineered pathway through the upper dry portion of the reservoir. It can get clogged with vegetation if not maintained and the lower the reservoir level, the further the channel needs to be extended to keep the river and reservoir connected.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.